New Delhi, Mar 1 (IANS) In an indication of his growing stature within the Bharatiya Janata Party, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi came in for special praise at its national executive meeting Friday as party chief Rajnath Singh termed the atmosphere favourable for the party in the next general elections.
Modi came in for repeated praise in Rajnath Singh's speech, signalling he may be accorded a national role. There have been demands from within the BJP that Modi should be declared prime ministerial candidate, effectively pitching him against Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad, who briefed reporters about the deliberations of the national executive, said the meeting specially greeted Modi for his victory in the Gujarat assembly polls in December.
He said Rajnath Singh hailed Modi for creating "a new record among the BJP chief ministers by being the first to be elected for third consecutive term with convincing majority".
Prasad said the party chief also praised Modi for his development record and said that performance of BJP-ruled governments was being discussed around the world.
"He (Rajnath Singh) made a special mention of Gujarat... that even the European Union is recognising his government's performance and seeking to build new relationship," he said.
Answering queries, Prasad said the party had not decided its prime ministerial candidate and had made its position clear repeatedly on the issue.
"Let me reiterate it today. We are very proud of the leadership of Narendra Modi. He was appreciated, complimented because of the historic third win... who shall be prime ministerial candidate, the party's parliamentary board will decide at the appropriate time," Prasad said.
Rajnath Singh also praised other BJP chief ministers, including Raman Singh and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, for their performance, said Prasad, adding the party chief exhorted partymen to work with dedication for the party's victory in the next Lok Sabha elections.
"We should take pledge that 2014 will be BJP's year. We have to stand united. The atmosphere in the country is in party's favour...If 20th century was the century of Congress, let the 21st century be the century of BJP," Rajnath Singh said, while accusing the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of failing on political, economic and diplomatic fronts.
The BJP chief also criticised the government over the budget presented Thursday, claiming the UPA's "gross mismanagement of Indian economy and corruption" had led to a "crisis of credibility of the government on global scale".
He alleged the government was trying to reduce subsidies in the name of fiscal consolidation and talking about the need to reduce petrol and diesel subsidy that came to about Rs 1.5 lakh crore though it intended to extend benefits to the tune of Rs.573,000 crore to the corporate sector.
Rajnath Singh also said the country's GDP growth had reached precarious levels due to policies of the UPA, but a reason for even these precarious growth levels being sustained was "ten percent growth rate" of several BJP-ruled states.
Praising Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, the leaders of opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for "extraordinary performance in nailing the government" in parliament, he said though the party missed presence of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, senior leader L.K. Advani's presence provided strength.
Former party president Nitin Gadkari, who spoke before Rajnath Singh, said the party will come to power in the 2014 elections under leadership of the new president.
The national executive meeting will be followed by two-day meeting of the national council.
The meeting, being attended among others by chief ministers, MPs, legislators and office-bearers, will adopt political and economic resolutions and discuss the party's preparations for the assembly polls to be held later this year.